Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sato Sato Sato Sato Sato Sato

The photography of Tokihiro Sato sits at the intersection of spirituality, science, and aesthetics. Not a bad view from there. Using a large-format camera with a neutral-density filter that permits long exposures on even the brightest days, he photographs himself moving through space, periodically flashing a tiny hand held mirror or penlight. He himself is not in one place long enough to register on film, but the light marks his journey. In the buddism tradition, his absence and presence are one.

That his presence/absence would be recorded as spots of light would have pleased Einstein. Without straying too far from our aesthetic ground, we can safely remark that contemporary physics is finding that, underneath it all, we are little bundles of light-emitting energy, blinking in the night. (In this regard, were there fewer of us, we could look to the rest of the galaxy the way stars look to us-- dots of light traveling for eons, a record of position once held, by a being who has since moved on.) That Sato has utilized a seemingly simple or low-tech way to explore this intersection of old-and-new beliefs is to his credit.

There is a refined qualilty to the aesthetic of Sato's images which seems distinctly Japanese. The concept of transience, embodied in wabi-sabi as in other Japanese aethetic practices, is much alive in Sato's work. The changes of time and position, and the indifference of nature to our plight, is the at the core of the exploration into our transient and metaphysical existence. Tokihiro Sato elegantly depicts with great tenderness our fragil, beating energy, fleeting against the backdrop of nature and our won onward-rolling civilization.